Pleas entered in case over deaths of fruit pickers

Ashley Clarke
Ashley Clarke
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THE company where two young fruit pickers died in an apple store has admitted health and safety breaches.

Ashley Clarke, 24, originally from Emsworth, died while working at the Blackmoor Estate near Liss, in February 2013.

Scott Cain, from Whitehill, near Petersfield, also died while retrieving apples from the store at the estate owned by Conservative peer Lord Selbourne.

The two men were overcome by fumes.

At Winchester Crown Court yesterday Blackmoor Estate Ltd’s legal representative Ben Compton pleaded guilty to three of four health and safety charges against the firm. The estate pleaded not guilty to the fourth.

The charges relate to inadequate emergency plans and risk assessments.

Andrew Stocker, 57, from Bordon, a former manager at the estate, previously entered a plea of not guilty to two counts of gross negligence manslaughter at an earlier hearing.

His trial is scheduled for June.

The case against the estate has been adjourned for sentencing at the conclusion of Mr Stocker’s trial.

Mr Clarke was an engineering graduate who was a former pupil of Southbourne Community College.

Mr Clarke’s family had a long-standing association with the Southsea Nomads which his father played for and sponsored.

He joined the club himself aged 18 and wore the number seven shirt.

He had recently become engaged.

Mr Cain, 33, from Liss, was engaged with a baby daughter.